Seventeen years ago I found myself sitting in the offices of a national career search firm. My career was in shambles as I was working for an evil boss at a floundering company doing work I never enjoyed. The goal of working with this career counseling organization was for me to fundamentally change the direction of my career. I didn’t know how to make the change for myself and so I sought out expert advice on the topic.
The story of my interaction with that career search organization is troubling and very disappointing but one of the things that they talked about intrigued me: “The Hidden Job Market”. To say that I was skeptical of some magical and mysterious hidden job market would be an understatement. Really? At 40 years old and having had 20+ years of work experience there was some underground railroad for finding a job that I and none of the people I knew had ever heard of? Go sell your infomercial to some other sucker I thought. 17 years later I have taught thousands of people that not only is the hidden job market real but anyone can access it with the right tools and strategies.
Before you click off the page in disbelief, I’d like you to know that not only is the hidden job market real…but YOU experience it many times in any given week in your own life.
Have you ever hired a babysitter without them contacting you first? That’s the hidden job market. Have you ever chosen a restaurant based on a referral from a friend?…that’s the hidden job market. Ever chosen a mechanic based on an online review of their work?…Yup- hidden job market. Anytime that you have chosen a product or a service but did not do so based on that product or service’s advertising campaign (“their resume”) you have found something through the hidden job market.
This flies against everything that we THINK we know about hiring though doesn’t it? Let’s challenge some of those:
Q: Don’t all employers have to advertise their positions by law to meet equal opportunity requirements?
A: Actually a stunning 80% of the 15 million hiring organizations in America do not fall under the categories of companies that have to advertise their jobs by law.
Q: Don’t employers want to go through an in depth hiring process with lots of candidates to ensure the best possible fit?
A: Some do…but most of them want the answer to their problems to show up right in front of them without 100 resumes, 20 phone screens, 7 first interviews, 3 second interviews only to hire a stranger who they hope is who they said they were in the interview. Most companies with the ability to do so (more than 12 million of them) would rather hire a proven answer referred to them by someone they know and trust without ever advertising the open position. Just like you when you buy a can of tomato soup off of the grocery store end cap before you turn down the soup aisle to be assaulted by 72 brands of tomato soup that you need to choose from.
Q: Aren’t all jobs in America posted somewhere for everyone to see (on Monster, Indeed, etc.)?
A: Far from it! Google “What percentage of jobs are not advertised?” and you will be greeted by some 3 million results saying that anywhere from 65-90% of jobs are never advertised. This ladies and gentleman is the hidden job market.
If you look at your own life you will see countless examples of how you choose things based on referrals from others without ever being influenced by advertising (think of their advertising as their “resume” sent to you for consideration).
Job search is a research project first and foremost. Discovering great opportunities that others aren’t aware of is one of the most empowering types of job search there is. It also allows you to “stand in a line of one” for your next great job. Imagine, YOU being in control of the process instead of being at the mercy of an organization.
Think of that; You don’t want to search for a job the traditional way and most employers don’t want to hire that way. How about we try something else?
“Be humble, be sincere, ask for help…”